Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 31 Jan 2020


Johnson hails ‘new dawn’ as UK leaves EU

Boris Johnson will hail a “new dawn” for the UK in a video message to be released at 10pm today, an hour before the country officially leaves the EU after 47 years in the bloc. The prime minister will describe severing ties with the other 27 EU nations as a “moment of real national renewal and change”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned that Britain must not “turn inwards” but rather remain “internationalist, diverse and outward-looking”.


WHO declares coronavirus global emergency

The World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency as the deadly new strain of coronavirus spreads across the globe. WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was concern that the virus could devastate countries with weaker health systems than that of China, where almost 10,000 people have been confirmed to be infected since the outbreak began in the city of Wuhan in mid December.


Government review says HS2 should go ahead

A review commissioned by Boris Johnson into HS2 “strongly advises” against cancelling the controversial project, the BBC reports. The news comes days after Chancellor Sajid Javid gave his backing for the proposed high-speed rail link between London, the Midlands and the North. The Government is due to announce its decision on the £88bn project in February.


Johnson to call for Canada-style trade deal

Boris Johnson will begin Britain’s first post-Brexit week by calling for a basic trade deal based on that between the EU and Canada. The so-called Canada model allows for almost tariff-free trade in goods but entails border checks. The Treasury previously estimated that the UK economy would be 4.9% smaller after 15 years under such a deal than if Britain had stayed in the EU.


Trump trial: Republican dashes witness hopes

A moderate US Republican senator has quelled fears within his party that he would vote to accept a Democrat request to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Lamar Alexander said he thinks that the president acted inappropriately in his treatment of Ukraine but that it was not an impeachable offence. The Democrats needed four Republicans to vote with them to allow witness testimony at the Senate hearing.


Applications for foreign passports soar

The number of Britons seeking a second passport from another EU member state has soared since the Brexit vote, new figures show. More than 350,000 Britons have applied since 2016, with some giving up their British status. And while just over 32,000 citizens in Northern Ireland and Great Britain applied to receive Irish passports in 2015, that figure has quadrupled in the past four years.


Gwyneth Paltrow ‘poses health risk’, says NHS

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has accused Hollywood celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow of posing a “considerable health risk” to the public through the advice that she dispenses in her new Netflix TV series The Goop Lab. Stevens said the show spreads “misinformation” with its claims about alternative therapies.


Katie Hopkins blocked from Twitter

The Twitter account of reality TV star and right-wing provocateur Katie Hopkins has been suspended while the microblogging site investigates accusations of racism. A Twitter spokesperson said the platform’s rules on abuse “apply to everyone using our service – regardless of the account involved”. Hopkins has more than a million followers.


Mary Beard sits for nude portrait

TV academic Professor Mary Beard has posed naked for a portrait for her new programme Shock of the Nude. Beard said she felt it was “impossible to remain an elderly academic woman fully clothed” while presenting a show about nudity in art, in which she investigates “the line between art and porn”.


Briefing: who is Liam Scarlett?

The Royal Ballet has suspended a star choreographer over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Liam Scarlett, 33, is reported to have been banned from the ballet company’s Covent Garden base, pending the results of an inquiry into claims of inappropriate behaviour with students.

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